Appendix 1 - Glossary of information and records management terms

Appendix 1

Access - the availability of or permission to consult records. Access may be withheld to protect the privacy of data subjects, if records are especially sensitive, if there is a risk of a breach of security or if there is a possibility of physical damage to records.

Accountability - the principle that organisations and individuals, especially those funded by public monies, are required to account to others for their actions. Accountability may be required under legal or statutory requirements or because of community expectations.

Active records - records which are referred to on a frequent basis. In order to facilitate convenience, they are commonly located adjacent to work areas.

Activity - an action taken to complete a business function.

Appraisal - the process of examining and evaluating records in order to determine which records should be kept, and for how long, to meet the needs of the organisation, legal requirements, and the expectations of researchers and other users of records.

Archives - records retained on a permanent basis because of continuing value. Commonly, archives are retained as they are significant for research and posterity, because of intrinsic factors, or they retain legal or administrative importance.

Capture - records capture refers to the registration of records in a record-keeping system.

Classification - the process of determining how records are kept. This will involve naming files and allocating user permissions.

Closed file - a file to which no further documents may be added. Commonly, files are closed as they have reached maximum size or the matter to which they pertain has been terminated.

Control - control of records applies to the entity that is in possession, either knowingly or unknowingly, of records.

Controlled vocabulary - indicates preferred and non-preferred language to be used in outputs of an information and records management system, for example, the names chosen for files. The opposite of controlled vocabulary is natural language or free text.

Custody - control of records. Custody does not confer ownership or right of access.

Data - information recorded in a form in which it is capable of being processed automatically, for instance, information stored on a computer's memory or diskette.

Disaster - refers to any event that prevents from carrying out business functions for a period of time. A disaster might be natural or man-made.

Disaster prevention and recovery plan - written procedure minimising risks of disasters and outlining recovery techniques to salvage records should a disaster occur.

Disposition - refers to the ultimate fate of records, that is, whether they are destroyed or retained on a permanent basis as archives.

Document - a structured unit of recorded information in any format.

Document order - refers to the order in which documents are attached to files. Documents are usually attached in strict chronological order.

Electronic records - records which require a machine to be read or accessed.

Ephemera - items of low importance, often published, which are created for a specific event and are not meant to retain any long-term significance, for example, brochures or flyers.

Evidence - information that tends to prove a fact. In terms of records management, evidence is not limited to the legal sense of the term.

File - an accumulation of records (both paper and electronic) maintained in a predetermined physical arrangement. The concept applies particularly to active and semi-active records.

File numbering -the practice of assigning symbols such as numbers or letters, or a combination of both, to files in a unique sequence in order to distinguish them from other files. Each filing system should incorporate such a mechanism.

Filing system -A filing system is a rational and predetermined methodology according to which records are classified.

Folio numbering - a technique of applying a number to each folio or sheet in a file. Records are retained in chronological order and numbers are assigned consecutively.

Function - largest unit of business activity. Activities and transactions comprise each function.

Inactive records - indicates records whose operational value has expired. Inactive records are either destroyed or retained as archives if they are adjudged to possess continuing value.

Intermediate records storage - locations at which semi-active records are retained, for example, a records centre or other low-cost accommodation.

Metadata - data describing data and data systems, for example, data about the contents and operating principles of databases.

Permanent paper - acid-free paper containing low levels of undesirable substances like lignin and acidic sizing. It enables long-term retention of records and archives.

Personal information - information about individuals that would normally only be known to the data subject, family and friends. Such information is normally accessible only by the data subject.

Preservation - encompasses strategies that enhance the useable life of records and archives.

Provenance - the agency, office or person who originates records.

Record-keeping regime - system of rules governing the creation and maintenance of records. The record-keeping regime is supported by guidance and a range of tools.

Record-keeping systems - information systems that capture, maintain and provide access to records over time.

Records - recorded information, in any form, created or received and accumulated by organisations and individuals in the transaction of business and kept as evidence of such activity.

Records life-cycle - a model which describes the lifetime of records. The life-cycle is divided into active, semi-active and inactive stages.

Records management - the application of systematic policies and procedures governing the creation, distribution, maintenance, management, use and ultimate retention or disposal of records to achieve economical, transparent, accountable and efficient administration.

Records retention schedules and disposal authorities - documents which govern disposal and retention decisions about records. Their provisions are based on best practice, legal and regulatory requirements and administrative preferences.

Registration - The act of giving each record a unique identity. This might involve the registration of items of mail or accumulations of documents, that is, files.

Semi-active records - records that retain ongoing value but are not referred to on an everyday basis. Semi-active records are often stored in intermediate storage, for example, a records centre.

Series - records which are kept together as they result from the same activity or because they are of similar form, for example, photographs are often stored together.

Tracking - a methodology which permits the location of records whether they are in storage or in use.

Transaction - smallest unit of business activity. Each transaction is part of an activity, and in turn, each activity is part of a function.

Transient records - transient or facilitative records are those which are created as a reference tool in the conduct of affairs but to which no lasting significance attaches. They do not require retention in a record-keeping system, for example, routine e-mails or telephone message slips.

User permissions - privileges allocated to users of an information and records management system. User permissions are consistent with the responsibilities of users.

Vital records - records essential for the protection of the creating organisation and its stakeholders. Vital records are protected by a disaster prevention and recovery plan.

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